There were two water-related amendments to the Texas Constitution up for vote yesterday. One, Proposition 2, passed and the other. Proposition 8, was voted down. So what does this mean for the future of water in drought-stricken Texas? Here are five things to know about the votes:
- What is Proposition 2 exactly? It’s an amendment that will let the Texas Water Development Board issue bonds to different companies engaged in water development and infrastructure projects. The companies then pay back the bonds, with interest. It passed with 52 percent of the vote.
- How much is the state issuing in bonds? The total amount of the bonds issued cannot exceed $6 billion at any given point in time. Earlier this year the Texas Water Development Board estimated that $231 billion worth of infrastructure projects would be necessary to keep water supplies at their current level into the future. This bond package should spur development.
- So what what does it mean for me? Proponents of the amendment say it will encourage water projects at a time when enduring drought has put a strain on pre-existing water supplies. Opponents had worried that the bonds would create more state debt, and doing so without putting the matter up for a vote each time. KUT has more details on what those for and again the amendment are saying, here. You can also read the Texas Legislative Council’s analysis of the measure here.
- What was Proposition 8? It would have provided tax breaks to landowners who practice “good water-stewardship,” but it failed to muster up enough votes. It included breaks for practices like planting native grasses and vegetation, which don’t require as much water. Private landowners already receiving land and wildlife conservation tax breaks would have been eligible for this additional break. Again, the Texas Legislative Council and the Texas Tribune have more detailed information.
- Why did it fail? “At end of day I feel like it boils down to ballot language,” Matt Phillips of the Nature Conservancy told the Texas Tribune. “I think folks probably didn’t understand what the measure did.” Even through Proposition 8 failed, private landowners can still receive tax breaks by protecting their land and wildlife.